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In recent years, several studies have been carried out into the reasons why students drop out of online higher education. However, more effort has gone into analyzing the causes of this phenomenon than into trying to characterize students who drop out, that is defining what a dropout is.
As one of the
main findings of this article, the authors (Josep Grau-Valldosera and Julià Minguillón) reach a pure empirical definition, at a programme level, of students who drop out of an online higher education context with non-mandatory enrolment. This definition is based on the probability of students not continuing a specific academic programme following several consecutive semesters of “theoretical break”, and is highly adaptable to institutions offering distance education with no permanence requirements. Analyzing the reasons behind these facts should help higher education institutions to make more sound and efficient decisions.